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In Brief

In Brief


e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service


In Brief

An e-Review News Item | Aug. 28, 2009 {1073}

• Florida Scout provides survival tools for homeless
• Bethune-Cookman University ranked as top tier college
• Florida Southern named among best buys, colleges
• Outreach ministry announces new director



Florida Scout provides survival tools for homeless

By Rich Peck**

TAMPA, Fla. — Victor Karstendiek, 13, is providing sleeping bags, blankets, health kits, rain ponchos and tote bags for the homeless in the Tampa area. He hopes this Boy Scout Eagle project will inspire other troops across the nation to also provide “urban survival kits” for the homeless in their communities.

Victor Karstendiek shows a backpack and blankets as a sample of the kind of survival tools he is collecting for the homeless in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Rich Peck. Photo #09-1294.

The son of a military family, Victor was born in Ft. Belvoir, Va. He has experience with Boy Scout troops in Vogelweh, Germany, and Hurburt Field and Gulf Breeze, Fla. He is currently a member of Troop 315, Gulf Ridge Council.

“I think his mother, Jeanne, inspired Victor to make his Eagle Project a way to help the homeless,” his father, Paul, said. “She has led multiple UMC youth mission projects, and outreach was a way of life during his childhood.”

Paul also credits Kevin Grills, director of student ministries at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Tampa, Fla., for raising awareness of the homeless through food fast and fund-raising projects for a feeding ministry. He also credits the God and Country program of PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities for Youth). Victor has earned his God and Me, God and Family, and God and Church religious awards and is currently working on his God and Life Award.

The county Homeless Coalition serves as sponsor of the project, and Victor set Sept. 30 as the day in which people should drag camping gear down from their attics to give to the homeless. He is also asking camping wholesalers to send their excess stock to help fill the urban survival kits.

When Victor is not gathering camping supplies he is participating in triathlons and soccer games. He is the third generation of his family to earn the rank of Eagle.

“I’m blessed to have such a caring and responsible son,” Paul said.


Bethune-Cookman University ranked as top tier college

By Liz Poston**

For the second consecutive year, US News & World Report has named Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) one of the top Historically Black Colleges & Universities nationwide, according to rankings published in the 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges. 

B-CU ranks in the top tier of Historically Black Colleges & Universities — ranked 1 to 35 out of 90 schools considered. This year, B-CU moved up one position from its 2009 ranking to 32 on the top tier list. Institutions are rated based on a specialized peer survey combined with statistical data including graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. 

In the category “Best Baccalaureate Colleges, Southern Region,” B-CU ranks in the third tier of schools — those ranked from 49 to 72 out of the 96 institutions surveyed. This category rates institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of programs in both liberal arts and professional fields.

B-CU is also one of four Florida institutions profiled on the US News & World Report “Best Colleges” Web site as part of its college road trip feature. Written to give prospective students a feel for the institution, the article highlights B-CU’s commitment to academic excellence and community service, as well as its campus life, including Greek activities and performances by the university’s Marching Wildcats.

The full profile is available at

Founded in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with The United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.

B-CU offers baccalaureate degrees in 37 majors through six academic schools and maintains intercollegiate athletic programs and instrumental and choral groups that have achieved national recognition. The school achieved University status in 2007 with the launch of a master’s degree program in transformative leadership.

Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private historically black colleges in Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of more than 3,400.


Florida Southern named among best buys, colleges

By Florida Southern College Public Relations Staff

LAKELAND, Fla. — Florida Southern College is among the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. It’s also one of 44 “Best Buy Schools” listed in the 2010 edition of the “Fiske Guide to Colleges.”

The Princeton Review is an education services company that features Florida Southern in the 2010 edition of its guidebook, “The Best 371 Colleges.” The book, which includes detailed profiles of the colleges, names Florida Southern one of the “Best in the Southeast.”
About 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and two Canadian colleges are profiled in the book, which is The Princeton Review’s flagship annual college guide. Profiles are based largely on institutional data and interviews with students from the featured colleges.
“We commend Florida Southern for its outstanding academics, which is the primary criteria for our choice of schools for the book,” says Robert Franek, author of guidebook and Princeton Review’s vice president of publishing. “We also work to keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character. We make our choices based on institutional data we gather about schools, feedback from students attending them, and input from our staff, who visit hundreds of colleges a year. We also value the opinions and suggestions of our 23-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, and independent college counselors we hear from yearlong.” 
The school profiles and ranking lists are posted at

The “Best Buy” list in the 2010 edition of the “Fiske Guide to Colleges” is based on such factors as the quality of academic programs and student life, in addition to tuition costs.

The “Fiske Guide” covers academics, campus setting, student body, financial aid, housing, food, social life and extracurricular activities at the “best and most interesting” schools in the United States. It highlights Florida Southern’s academic programs, Division II athletics, Greek system and Frank Lloyd Wright campus.
Information on the “Fiske Guide” is available at and

Florida Southern began in 1882 as a school of the conference. Over the years, it became a seminary and a high school, moving several times. In 1887, the school moved to Leesburg from Orlando where it became known as Florida Conference College. In 1922, the school moved to Lakeland and in 1935 was renamed Florida Southern College.

Florida Southern is a private, comprehensive college with a liberal arts core. It offers 50 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business administration, education and nursing. It is also home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.


Outreach ministry announces new director

By Nancy Currens**

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The board of directors of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries has hired Pamela Qualls as its new executive director.

Qualls succeeds Donna Ratzlaff, who served as executive director of the nonprofit ministry for 18 years.

United Methodist Cooperative Ministries is an outreach ministry of the Florida Conference and its Gulf Central District. It provides family support services, outreach to the area’s homeless population, literacy services for adults, a preschool, after-school tutoring, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) legal clinics for immigrants and other ministries to children and families in West Manatee, Pinellas, West Pasco, Hernando and West Citrus counties. The main office is located in Clearwater, with satellite locations in other areas.

Qualls was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a graduate of the University of Indianapolis, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and music performance. She spent 10 years as a professional musician and more than 15 years in marketing, nonprofit management and music education.

A lifelong Methodist, Qualls has served in a variety of roles in the church: mission, trustees, worship, youth and education. She and her husband, Ed, are members at Anona United Methodist Church in Largo.

More information about the organization’s programs and affiliates is available at or by calling 727-442-6881. 


News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Currens is director of public relations and communications at United Methodist Cooperative Ministries in Clearwater, Fla.
   Peck is part-time communications director for the General Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville, Tenn., and communications coordinator and editor of UM Men magazine. 
   Poston is strategic communications advisor in the public relations office at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla.